The Astros rotation is not looking too bad at this point, but what about McHugh?
All offseason, we heard all the experts around baseball say the Houston Astros need to upgrade the rotation. We heard that if they acquired an ace, they would be favorites to win the World Series. Adding another arm like Chris Archer or Jose Quintana would have helped. Instead, the Astros decided to wait it out to see what’s needed at the deadline.
The front office is all in, but you can see how they are a little hesitant to trade Francis Martes. In yesterday’s game, he pitched three perfect innings while striking out three. Some can argue about the quality of the rotation, but they can’t argue the depth. Martes further adds to this depth and could make debut in 2017.
Except for Collin McHugh, the starting pitching has looked better recently. The Spring schedule started off rough with Brady Rodgers, Brad Peacock, and others starting games. The starters were getting hit hard and early, so you could see why people were panicking. Speaking of Peacock, he has had his ups and downs this Spring. Yesterday, he allowed one run in three innings.
Unless an injury occurs, I don’t see Peacock making the opening day roster. Peacock will be put on waivers if he doesn’t make the team, he is out of options. He is auditioning for other teams at this point. Then again, McHugh has yet to appear in a game. It is the 18th of March. Time is running out. The Astros will be cautious with their third best pitcher so that Mike Fiers could get a few starts. Maybe even Peacock, but he could serve as the long man in the bullpen.
What about Collin?
The Astros are not worried about McHugh, so maybe we shouldn’t either. Let’s focus on the good parts of the rotation now. Charlie Morton has been impressive with a 2.00 ERA in nine innings while striking out six hitters. Like he showed before his injury in 2016, he is throwing the fastball in the mid to upper nineties. While he doesn’t need the extra velocity, it will help his curveball and sinker.
Joe Musgrove has been equally impressive. In 12 innings, Musgrove has a 2.25 ERA with nine strikeouts. Musgrove has shown that he should be the fifth starter over Fiers. Fiers is dealing with some injuries but is expected to be ready by the start of the season.
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The main reason people felt that they needed help in the rotation is because of the health concerns of their top two pitchers. These two pitchers are the 2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers. Despite a later start to both pitchers, they both appear on track to be healthy and ready. McCullers has five innings under his belt with a 3.60 ERA with nine strikeouts.
The Astros are counting on McCullers on taking the next step this year, but they need Keuchel to rebound. Keuchel, being the beard, has to best McCullers by pitching seven innings to this point without allowing a run. Keuchel struggled last year with a shoulder injury that hampered his performance.
While there is still a long way to go in spring training, you have to be excited about the performance of the key guys in the rotation. Just reassigned to minor league camp, Martes will add to this rotation soon. We all wait to see what is going on with McHugh because he was the best pitcher down the stretch. Morton gets the start today, let’s say five innings today?
***Stats from MLB.com***